Eric Vanderaerden - back at the races

Eric checking the points situation.

Eric checking the points situation. (Image credit: Gerry McManus)

Eric Vanderaerden was one of the heroes of cycling in the 1980s and a winner of the Tour of Flanders and Paris Roubaix. The Belgian legend hung up his wheels in the '90s but is now back in the sport as the new Directeur Sportif. He took the helm in the Tour of Britain back in August and our UK Cyclingnews correspondent Gerry McManus went along for the ride.

Still with the flowing blond locks that he was famous for, Eric jumps in behind the steering wheel, quickly double-checking the DFL team list taped to the dashboard which includes the riders' nicknames, and then onto the team radio to ensure communication with the riders is working correctly. 'Fonzi' (Russell Downing) had begun the stage wearing the green jersey as points leader. Dean will certainly not be able to live up to his nickname 'Day-Off' as the team will inevitably be involved in defending his brother Russell's leadership.

"1996 was my last year racing," said the former Belgian champion. "Times have changed. Now the young guys start at 22 or 24 and they don't do that many races. They have to learn for one or two years and then move up in the team. I was very young and very strong and was instantly the team leader. From the age of 21, I had all the high pressure on me. I was a pro for 14 years and that's a long time."

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